During the week covered by this review, we received 14 articles on the following subjects:
The Jerusalem Post, December 31, 2017
On Thursday, December 28, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu posted a video on Facebook blasting Tehran for its treatment of Christians, saying, “It is hypocritical for Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif to tweet a Christmas message when the regime he is part of jails Christians for practicing their faith.” Netanyahu also called upon his audience to pray for the Christians who are being persecuted in Iran.
The Jerusalem Post, Israel Hayom, December 31, 2017
A recently-posted four-story-high billboard on the facade of the Friends of Zion Heritage Center said, “Thank you and Happy New Year, President Trump – you’re making Israel greater.” The center has also praised Trump for recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and announcing the relocation of the U.S. embassy to the city. The center has already presented Trump with the Friend of Zion award for his announcement, stating that every head of state that follows suit will receive the same award.
David Parsons of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem stated that Trump has been a true friend of Israel even before his election and because of this, many Evangelicals chose to support him. Parsons described how Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales’ decision to transfer his embassy was due to his Evangelical faith. He noted that other supporters of Israel are “…the friends of Israel, and they stand alongside the citizens of the only democracy in the region with prayer, love, and support.”
Yediot Yerushalayim, January 5, 2018
Excavations are being carried out to make an underground pedestrian passageway, leading from beneath the Church of All Nations at Gethsemane to a private area on the other side of the Jericho road. Although the Jerusalem municipality gave a permit for the excavation, city council member Arieh King says that the process of gaining permission was flawed that the resulting situation “…gives preferential treatment to the church, injuring the public interest.” The purpose of the tunnel remains unclear.
The municipality responded that the building permit was given after a team of experts reviewed the request, and the work taking place is being done per that permit.
The Jerusalem Post, January 3, 2018
In this article, Alan Dershowitz gives a précis of a debate he held on BDS with Professor Cornel West of Harvard. The discussion was held in the beginning of December before an audience of businesspeople in Dallas, Texas. West’s first argument in favor of BDS was that BDS would encourage Israel to make peace with the Palestinians, to which Dershowitz replied, “Israel would never be blackmailed into compromising its security.”
West’s second argument was “Israel is a colonialist-settler state practicing a worse form of apartheid than that of South Africa,” and as such should be subject to economic sanctions and cultural isolation. Dershowitz replied that Jews emigrating to Israel were fleeing from the countries of their birth, not acting as a colonial agent on their behalf, adding, “Contrary to the former situation in South Africa, Arabs, Druze and Christians in Israel have equal rights and serve in high positions in society.”
West’s third argument was that BDS is “…a non-violent movement that is the best way to protest Israel’s ‘occupation’ and settlement policies.” To this Dershowitz replied that since BDS lacks universality it is not a “movement,” noting, “It began before any occupation or settlements and picked up steam just as Israel offered a two-state solution.”
West’s fourth argument was that BDS would help the Palestinians. Dershowitz’ response to this was that BDS caused unemployment among Palestinians when the SodaStream company was pressured to move out of the West Bank. He added, “For the Palestinians to expect to be given a state without negotiating a compromise solution is like expecting to win the lottery without buying a ticket.” The debate concluded with a second audience vote, resulting in 129 opposed and 16 in favor, West having swayed two votes and Dershowitz having swayed 36. Dershowitz notes that the anti-BDS position won not because of his personal capabilities but since the “facts, morality, and practicalities” are against BDS. He, therefore, calls upon his readers to “…continue to present the case honestly and effectively, so that BDS would be defeated in the court of public opinion.”
The Jerusalem Post, December 31, 2017
On Saturday night, December 30, the Bayit Yehudi Youth held a ‘Novi God’ (Russian for ‘New Year’) event at the Gula culture and leisure center in Petach Tikva. The party featured musical and comic performances, a championship for the Durak card game and refreshments. Celebrating the holiday has at times been controversial in Jewish communities due to the Christian elements included. However, Yonatan Dobov, one of the organizers, said that the holiday is family-oriented, not religious but cultural. Idit Druyan, the other organizer, said the time has come to break down “the walls of ignorance” regarding the holiday.
Iton Shacharit, HaMevaser, January 3, 2018
The anti-missionary activist organization Yad L’Achim is surveying various possible courses of action against what it calls “a huge center intended to triple missionary activity in Ashdod.” According to Yad L’Achim, the building in question was purchased with monies contributed by Christians abroad and is to be dedicated in the coming months.
The Jerusalem Report, December 27, 2017
The Tower of David Museum is currently holding an exhibition on General Edmund Allenby, famed for his conquest of Jerusalem for Britain from the Ottoman Empire. The article describes Allenby’s character and faith “as a deeply religious man who was well-versed in the Bible.” Allenby entered Jerusalem modestly and on foot, and the proclamation of military rule “…was carefully worded with careful responsibility,” to take the city’s history and complexity into account.
Jews saw Allenby’s entry into Jerusalem as the next step in fulfilling the vision of the Balfour Declaration. Both Jews and Christians considered the event have religious significance as well.
A General and A Gentleman- Allenby at the Gates of Jerusalem will run through September 2018 at the Tower of David Museum.
Israel Hayom, Ma’ariv, The Jerusalem Post, January 2, Iton Shacharit, January 3, HaMachane HaCharedi, January 4, 2018
An Israel Antiquities Authority–Western Wall Heritage Foundation dig in the Western Wall plaza recently found a First Temple-era bulla measuring 15×13 millimeters. The upper part of the seal impression depicts two figures, with ancient Hebrew script below them saying “Governor of the city”. The seal’s purpose remains unknown, but Dr. Shlomit Weksler-Bdolah, excavator for the IAA, said she believes “…the bulla had been attached to an important shipment and served as a logo, or tiny souvenir, which was sent on behalf of the governor of the city.”
The bulla was presented to Jerusalem’s Mayor Nir Barkat during his most recent visit to the Davidson Center near the Western Wall. Once research is completed, the bulla will be displayed in a temporary exhibit in the mayor’s office.